With several NFL teams already securing their places in the playoffs, Week 17 usually might not be seen as a big betting weekend. But with 13 of 16 games having playoff implications of some kind, there are sure to be several teams giving it everything in their finales.
Whether it's for seeding purposes or simply for trying to get into the postseason, there are several favorites who have been given lines that are five points or higher. With some of those favorites playing on the road, the lines seem somewhat difficult to cover.
Before the playoffs begin and the days of the leaders in divisions playing teams in the cellar end, here are the favorites this weekend that will cover the spread in the final weekend of the regular season.
|Away Team||Home Team||Point Spread||Prediction|
|Carolina Panthers||Atlanta Falcons||CAR -6.5||CAR|
|Green Bay Packers||Chicago Bears||PK||CHI|
|Houston Texans||Tennessee Titans||TEN -7||HOU|
|Cleveland Browns||Pittsburgh Steelers||PIT -7||PIT|
|Washington Redskins||New York Giants||NYG -3.5||NYG|
|Baltimore Ravens||Cincinnati Bengals||CIN -5.5||BAL|
|Jacksonville Jaguars||Indianapolis Colts||IND -11.5||IND|
|Philadelphia Eagles||Dallas Cowboys||PHI -6.5||DAL|
|New York Jets||Miami Dolphins||MIA -6.5||NYJ|
|Detroit Lions||Minnesota Vikings||MIN -3.5||MIN|
|Buffalo Bills||New England Patriots||NE -9.5||NE|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||New Orleans Saints||NO -12.5||NO|
|Denver Broncos||Oakland Raiders||DEN -12.5||OAK|
|San Francisco 49ers||Arizona Cardinals||SF -3||ARI|
|Kansas City Chiefs||San Diego Chargers||SD -10||SD|
|St. Louis Rams||Seattle Seahawks||SEA -10||SEA|
Spreads courtesy of Vegas Insider
Carolina Panthers (-6.5 at Atlanta Falcons)
The Carolina Panthers and Atlanta Falcons have seemingly switched roles this season.
After the Panthers posted three straight losing seasons, they are now on track to finish at least six games above .500. For the Falcons, five straight winning seasons came to an abrupt end in 2013, and they are destined to finish, at the least, six games below .500.
But even with a 6.5-point spread swinging in the Falcons' favor, the Panthers have one of the most dominant defenses in the NFL and an offense that scores 23 points per game on average. Steve Smith is listed as highly doubtful due to a knee injury, though, so the line is closer than it would likely be with the Panthers' second-leading receiver in the game.
Despite the Falcons covering the spread in four of their last five games, they are still essentially the same team that was crushed by Carolina back on Nov. 3. The Panthers put up 34 points against the Falcons and cruised to an easy win at 34-10, covering the nine-point spread.
The line may have narrowed due to the fact that the Panthers are playing on the road or that they are playing without Smith. But with the NFC South division crown on the line, don't expect the Panthers to ease off the gas pedal against their division rival in this one.
Prediction: Panthers 31, Falcons 20
Philadelphia Eagles (-6.5 at Dallas Cowboys)
The Philadelphia Eagles possess the best offense in the NFC in total yards, rushing yards and points per game. The Dallas Cowboys defense ranks last in the NFC in yards allowed, 14th in rushing yards and 12th in points per game.
As if this game didn't already appear lopsided, the Cowboys might be without franchise quarterback Tony Romo, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN:
Cowboys QB Tony Romo has been ruled out the rest of the season due to his back injury, per league source.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) December 23, 2013
Despite the report, Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett still has Romo listed as day-to-day, according to Dave Spadaro of PhiladelphiaEagles.com:
On conference call with Dallas HC Jason Garrett. No commitment regarding QB for Sun. Orton taking practice reps. "Day to day" for Tony Romo.— Dave Spadaro (@davespadaro) December 26, 2013
Regardless of the report, the Cowboys defense alone is enough reason to believe that the Eagles will roll in this game and clinch the NFC East division crown.
The Eagles have covered in five of the seven games since Nick Foles officially became the starter against the Oakland Raiders in Week 9. With both a favorable matchup on offense and the potential of Kyle Orton starting for the Cowboys, the Eagles are in prime position to pull off a huge win in Jerry World, or AT&T Stadium.
Prediction: Eagles 42, Cowboys 27
New Orleans Saints (-12.5 vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
The New Orleans Saints' spread against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is tied only with the Denver Broncos spread over the Raiders, and deservedly so. After getting romped by the St. Louis Rams and narrowly edged by the Panthers, the Saints are an angry team returning home with their playoff lives on the line.
Drew Brees knows exactly what his team needs to do, and he didn't seem to be holding any punches in a press conference held on Wednesday that was posted on the Saints' official website. When asked about playoff scenarios, Brees responded:
Listen, we can be a two seed, a five seed, a six seed or out of the playoffs. There’s so many things that can happen, but none of the good stuff happens unless we win this weekend.
Which team is the biggest lock this weekend against the spread?
At home, the Saints are 7-0 and have won each game by an average of 17.4 points per game, with the only narrow margin of victory coming against the San Francisco 49ers back in Week 11. That contest against the 49ers was also the only time the Saints didn't cover the spread at home this season, pushing the three-point spread in their favor.
With Brees behind center and a stout passing defense against a rookie quarterback, New Orleans will easily roll to a huge win to secure a spot in the playoffs.
Prediction: Saints 38, Buccaneers 21